Pantaloonies (I get asked about these all the time)

Posted by Bree Frost


Many years ago (about 2001), I was taught to make my first pair of pantaloons.  I have been cranking them out ever since.  I wear them as loose light trousers in summer and as proper under-skirt leg warmers in winter.  If made from cotton voile, they are breathable and comfortable and just generally useful to have around.  This version is NOT a classic period pair as the originals were split in the middle to make powdering ones nose much easier in crinolines and bustles.

You will need:

  • Any gathered waist casual pants pattern or scrubs pattern. I used Kwik Sew 4226


  • 2.2m of any fine cotton like voile, shirting or a fine sateen.  I have used craft cotton before but it is a tad thick.  For really posh ‘loons you can use handkerchief linen or a cotton silk blend.
  • Bias binding.  Handmade or pre made doesn’t matter.  (I made my own again: It’s a sickness)


  • Ribbon for the waist and leg gatherings.  You can also put elastic instead but I’m just really used to ribbon now.
  • Trim for the bottom hem. Alternatively, some 50mm ribbon for the trim I’ll demonstrate.
  • 3 Fat flats of craft cotton solid colours for the optional applique
  • Double sided iron on for applique. 

Presser Feet used:

  • Standard sewing foot (0A)
  • Open toe applique foot

TL: DR (too long: didn’t read)

Take the easiest trouser pattern available, cut out in two, not four pieces, tizz it up like crazy and get thought a REAL lady.

The Prelude:

Cut out trouser front and back from the original pattern.  I trace rather than cut my patterns, so I rough cut them out so I keep all the sizes.


  1. Lay them out under some tracing interfacing so the crotch points line up horizontally.  They shouldn’t be further away than 112cm (the narrowest standard fabric width). Then square them up to the grain lines. 


  1. Extend the centre front and back upward by approx. 5cm and square off across the top.
  2. For the bottom length I measure from crotch to below the knee, add 5cm for ease, 12cm for frill and seam allowance.
  3. From the crotch point take the line straight down to the hem instead of following the concave curve.

Congratulations! You’ve just taken the simplest trouser pattern and made it even more basic!

How to moosh this together:

For the basic loons, join the centre backs to one another and the centre fronts to each other.  I then flat-fell seam them.  Top tip: if you fell them in the opposite direction to each other, it’s flatter when you match the leg seam at the crotch point.

To sew the leg seam, start at the crotch point and down to the hem on each side.  Flat-fell these also.  Flat felling the inside leg makes it extremely durable.  Mine usually last me 6-10 years of pretty regular wear.

For the top edge, double fold to the outside by about 15mm and start stitching 25mm from the centre front, making sure you reinforce the start of the stitching.  Sew all the way round the waist edge, stopping and reinforcing 25mm before you get back to the centre again.  This is the channel for the waist ribbon, which you thread through with a bodkin (or safety pin) making sure there’s enough that the ribbon doesn’t slither back in when fully stretched at the waist.  Yes, you can put elastic in here instead making sure your channel is wide enough for you favourite sort.

For the bottom edge, a simple double fold over hem that I automatically do at bout 6 - 8mm width.  You can stop here for the easiest lounge pants/pyjama bottoms of all time.

I now mark with chalk (or pins) about 10cm up from the bottom hem all the way around each leg.  This is the positioning for the bias binding.  To sew the bias on, start on the outer edge of the leg with the bias tape folded over to give you a nice finish, sewn all the way around the leg, and fold over again when you get back to the start.  I start on the bottom edge first and then the top edge.  Try not to stretch your bias as you go.  Top Tip: If you aren’t confident of a really close edge stitch without falling off the bias, use a 2mm x 2mm zigzag.  It’s harder to miss with a wider stitch.

You can now thread ribbon through here too!  Once again, use more ribbon then the full width of each leg.


You can stop here for basic loons now.

For the ribbon trim, I had two pieces of 3m long 50mm wide ribbon, changed my stitch length to the longest setting (on my PFAFF it’s 6mm) and sewed from edge to edge at a 45° angle in a ribbon width zigzag pattern. Taffeta or organza ribbon will work better than double sided satin.



Curling the raw edge under at the beginning and securing it with a pin, pull on one side of the stitching thread along the ribbon so it bunches up in a regular, undulating pattern.  I didn’t remember to do this but mark the half way mark on the ribbon before you start and match it up to the halfway point around your hem to make it vaguely even.  

Curl the end raw edge under and pin before using a narrow zigzag to stitch down the middle of your new trim.  This trim is also great on Georgian gowns, if you happen to make any.


You can stop here for fancy Loonies now.

The last bit of extra that we’ll do (I promise) is some applique on the butt.  These particular loons are going to OzComicCon as Poison Ivy under(outer)wear.  I found some inspiration from a random photo on the internet of crochet and knitted trews for toddlers with zany faces on the toosh.  Mixing this up with the Venus Flytrap motif from my main costume, it seemed too good a gag to pass up!


Draw out your design on a piece of scrap paper, paying attention to the area size you’re working with.  Mark out your finished design with bold pen or sharpie or whatever is to hand.  Grab your double-sided interfacing and trace all your shapes onto it.  Beware of lettering or non-symmetrical designs as they’ll need flipping.  You can also shove your pieces as far down one end of your interfacing.  One thing that happens to me is that I’m easily confused with many pieced projects.  I’ll mark my pattern and then all my pieces with “this way up” arrows and colour keys and anything else I think will help me work out again later.


Cut out all your bits.  I pile mine in colour piles so I get it right.  Iron all your bits on to their respective coloured fabrics.  If your fabrics have patterns or obvious grains, take care which way up everything goes.  Cut everything out again.


Starting from the bottom layer, peel and press some of the bits on, AFTER you’ve mentally mapped with edges intersect others.  You want put all your base bits on and stitched before adding others and stitching over the top.  Use a dense zigzag stitch with a loose tension or the specific satin stitch setting with auto tension to cover all your edges.  Another tip is to use tearaway stabilizer underneath to get the flattest, most polished finish to the design and rip it all off when you’ve finished.


One really awesome feature on my PFAFF machine is the tapering function.


This means that wide and satin stitches can be made to shrink to a point at the ends and joins of shapes.  It needs a bit of practice with the different angles, directions and judging where at the end to set off the end sequence.  I feel with this project that I finally got the best out of it.  On your pattern, you can even map out where and how to use your tapering and tick them off as you complete them.



Hold up your grinning/angery/loopy loons and admire them!

Of course, you don’t have to anthropomorphize your pantaloons with applique but use this technique to add patches to tears or other really sweet designs to them.  Just try not add applique near the bits that will be gathered.


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